First Posted: 6/9/2011
PEMBROKE — It is very rare for Brad Ray to walk out onto the baseball field and feel uncomfortable or nervous, but that is what occurred when he went to Southeastern Community College for a tryout.
Those feelings quickly evaporated when the Purnell Swett star saw some familiar faces already attending SCC and began doing what he does best — catch.
Ray displayed the skills which earned him back-to-back selections to the all-county baseball team the last two seasons.
“I was kind of nervous because no one was talking to me,” Ray said. “Then I started talking to Dakota (Hayes from Lumberton) and then I started talking to the guys on the team.”
The next day he received an email from the SCC coaching staff, asking if he was interested in joining the team next year.
The current Ram was eager to accept the offer to join a new group of Rams, even though he knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of opportunities to see the field as a freshman.
“They have like four catchers in front of me that are going to be sophomores,” Ray said. “My first year I will be learning from the other catchers. I know I’m not going to get much playing time, I will just watch and observe.”
One person who thinks Ray may not be on the bench for long is Purnell Swett coach Kelly Chavis. After watching Ray perform day after day, Chavis feels Ray could easily move to another position and get on the field sooner than later.
“If he has to sit and watch for a year, that never hurt anyone,” Chavis said. “I think it would be a positive for him, but I think he can play third base at the next level. He took some ground balls there this year and if I had someone behind (at catcher) him just as good as he was, I think he could have played there. I think he can play one of the corner positions.”
One of the traits Chavis said he would miss most about Ray is the same one that attracted the attention of the SCC coaches.
“He had a good work ethic and came from a great family,” Chavis said. “He worked hard in practice, especially on his blocking. He didn’t mind putting in the work and tried to do the little things to make himself a better catcher.”
Earlier this month, SCC participated in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series in Enid, Oklahoma. The Rams advanced to the World Series for the second time in three years after winning the Region 10 championship.
Before stepping foot onto the Whiteville campus, Ray is already thinking two years into the future and his next destination after SCC.
“I want to transfer to a D-II or D-I school after Southeastern,” Ray said. “But first I want to help them get back to Oklahoma.”
Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at (910) 272-6111 or [email protected]